Folks private message me frequently with a question like, “How can I hear God’s voice?” or “I really need God right now – why is He not hearing me?” Indeed, it’s exceptionally challenging to be seeking the Divine and seemingly hearing “crickets” in return. Here are a few thoughts about what it takes to genuinely get an answer from the Divine, which for me means my Guru, Baba Neem Karoli.
People often confess things like, “My work situation is unbearable,” “my child is suffering from drug addiction,” “my loved one is dying,” or “I’m financially crumbling,” followed by, “and I NEED to hear from God!” Been there done that – personally and with hundreds of others of Souls. Haven’t we all been there? Aren’t we all in that position permanently, more or less? Isn’t there always some situation where we’d love advice from the Divine?
My personal need to hear from the Universe never ends.
Let me assure you that God hears every thought and intention you’ve ever transmitted. It’s impossible for God NOT to hear you. The Divine has perfect understanding and responds to every request without exception. Ram Dass’ conversion experience with Maharaj-ji came from his realization that Baba knows everything. No matter what, have faith that the Divine has listened to you, knows every dark corner of your being, and is still one hundred percent committed to acting on your behalf.
Hearing (knowing, understanding) the response from God is what’s so often at issue with folks.
I’ve written before about the voice that I’ve been listening to since I was a child. At first, I thought it was Jehovah/Jesus, and later I realized that it was Maharaj-ji Baba Neem Karoli all along. The physical position of Maharaj-ji’s non-verbal voice is over my right shoulder. When He starts talking, I can feel Him behind me. I discerned from an early age that when I did the opposite of what the voice suggested, I caused myself unnecessary pain and delay. However, when I followed its’ advice, there was a recognizable payoff in the future.
Everybody is unique – nobody is special. All of us can hear God in crystal-clear fashion. No one has any more extraordinary innate ability to hear what the Divine is trying to communicate. The truth is, God is speaking to all of us equally at all times with the same message. Some of us hear it in a detailed fashion, while others barely discern a mumble. Hearing God is cultivated through spiritual practice.
The challenge for most folks is choosing which voice to give their attention to – God or the ego (materialism). The wrestling is in the listening. When you come across a sub-ek saint like Jesus or Baba Neem Karoli or Anandamayi Ma, you’ve found a being who eternally hears God perfectly. There is no sticky ego left – just a pure channel to Grace. The rest of us block our communication (connection) to some degree with our selfishness.
The ego’s spokesperson is always in self-preservation mode. It faithfully serves fear in the body and mind. It will advise in whatever course of action preserves its’ existence, even (and sometimes especially) at the cost of others. It gives advice that makes a person think they’re putting themselves first when in reality, as Jesus said, “the first is last and the last first.”
The voice of the Divine is without self-interest – it ceaselessly provides the wisdom of unconditional love (agape) and compassion with no expectation of reward. It’s the servant that prospers in the Kingdom of Heaven. To distinguish between the two, the listener must have the ability to stand in both places. Only the egotistical voice will be heard if a person is unable or unwilling to exercise agape. The more selfishness a person practices, the more garbled will they hear their personal Divine guidance.
If someone’s goal is material wealth, societal fame, and power over people, then they absolutely need to be listening to the mouthpiece of their ego. The spiritual path of clarity doesn’t go in that direction. Baba Neem Karoli said, “Hold onto nothing. Love the poor. Serve them. Give everything to the poor, even your clothing. Give it all away. Jesus gave away all, including His body.” Hearing God means surrender.
A central goal on the self-controlled (spiritual) route is utter detachment from forms, as all forms are suffering because they’re in duality. It’s OK to have money, be famous, and be a leader- it’s when the pursuit or possession defines an individual that they are trapped (deaf to God’s calling and advice). If it hurts me to lose it, I’m attached to it and controlled by it.
For most Souls, the voice of God in this incarnation is only trying to get them to take one step forward. It will say things like, “eat better,” “study a little scripture,” “exercise,” “don’t buy things you don’t need,” “journal regularly,” “don’t hit snooze,” “be kind,” “meditate,” etc. If these statements cause guilt, that’s the ego voice. If we ignore this direction, how will we hear more detailed responses?
God’s voice is always like that friend you can say anything to who refuses to condemn you. It’s kind and inviting. It never rushes or wants you to rush. It endlessly tries to love you into listening. Most people ignore this transmission from God and only start trying to listen (follow) when tragedy or drama ensues.
If I don’t listen to God’s baseline guidance, then it will be much more challenging for me to get an answer to a big question like, “should I stay in a relationship with this person?” or “is it time to change jobs?” or “do I need to put my child in rehab?” or “how can I get out of debt?” The more a person follows the basic advice of the Divine, the clearer and more directing the voice of their Guru (their perfect Soul, the God in them) will become.
God’s voice is never going to contradict spiritual laws like “love everyone (your neighbor as yourself),” “tell the truth (don’t deceive),” “don’t covet (be jealous),” etc. What the Divine directs you to do will never injure another Soul. If it’s the dharma for you (God’s will), it cannot create negative karma. If I hear a voice that suggests I should gossip or need to get someone back for something or cheat on my relationship – that’s all me (and nasty). If I don’t know God’s laws from scripture or another source, then I cannot distinguish many times between God’s voice and my ego.
Today, after lots of scripture memory, spiritual practice, service, and meditation, plus a few samskaras, it’s usually easy for me to determine what God wants in most situations – act like Hanuman – act like Christ – love and serve everybody. Give yourself up entirely for others.
Listening to the voice that says, “bow like Hanuman before Rama!” when someone is screwing me has always worked out long-term. If you willingly offer your head to Shiva, you become an incarnation of wisdom that destroys any obstacle. Most people would prefer advice that keeps their ego intact, but God’s voice blows the ego apart, challenging us continually like Ram Dass to “become nobody.”
I have a unique temporary altar for big decisions in any area – relational, familial, financial, spiritual, etc. When I need serious direction, I print out a 3×3 inch card with some symbols or letters representing the issue. Sometimes there are three or four of them. I keep tea-light candles lit on each of those cards throughout the day. Each time I light a candle, I affirm, “Your will be done Maharaj-ji” or “I accept whatever happens in this situation” or “let me do exactly as you wish, Baba.” I use each card for thirty days, and I throw them away at the end.
How do I know when I get a Divine answer? All anxiety fades. I feel nothing in my stomach. I can dwell on the situation and come to no distress. If I wake up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom and think about the concern, it won’t keep me awake.
God’s response (the dharma) always comes with the peace that passes understanding. If I think I got an answer from the Divine, but I’m tied up in knots, I didn’t. God’s answers are always delivered with Divine assurance. Once a Soul gets a real response from God, they’re patient about it – there’s faith.
Most people have a “big bad wolf” situation lurking right now in their life…or so they think. There’s something or someone they want God to give them an answer about RIGHT THIS MINUTE! Getting that solution means listening to the voice that tells us to better ourselves – even for five minutes more a day. The more a person listens to the agent of discipline in their head, the more clarity comes into their life. It’s an automatic, natural reaction. The fastest way to hear from the Divine is to quiet life with a healthy routine – then the answers emerge. If someone insists on making decisions during the middle of a shit-storm, they should plan for shitty results. Each of us should live up to the best wisdom we possess – it’s to that standard we’re held accountable.
In 1st Kings 19, the prophet Elijah is trying to get an answer from God. “The Lord said, ‘Go out and stand on the mountain in the presence of the Lord, for the Lord is about to pass by.’ Then a great and powerful wind tore the mountains apart and shattered the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind. After the wind, there was an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. A fire came after the earthquake, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire came a gentle whisper. When Elijah heard it, he pulled his cloak over his face and went out and stood at the mouth of the cave. Then a voice said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?”
Direct, crystal-clear, personal communication from God comes when all anxiety ceases. As long as there’s fear, we cannot hear. What casts out fear? Perfect love. The quickest way to generate it? Bhakti yogi and spiritual practice – devotion to a Being that is only-other focused. We become what we focus upon!
If you need to hear from God, the most rapid way is to follow the advice you’ve been getting all along. The more you do, the more clarity will abound in your incarnation.